I am lucky to be surrounded by a number of renowned scenic hiking trails all less than an hour away, and I grew to enjoy hiking with him after moving here 5 years ago, though really mainly the moderate half-day trails and nothing close to backpacking or camping.
From a few separate conversations, two of my friends expressed their slight annoyance of this obsession of venturing outdoors here in California. They occasionally sensed this expectation and judgment of others when they voiced their disinterest in outdoor activities, somewhat of a fad which everyone else in sunny California seems to share. This frustration got me thinking a bit more about how we decide on our interests, and of course, they whys behind my own choices.
People in general yearn to feel special, and we tend to think that by being a part of a unique clique, a secret society, we can amplify our individuality, gain that idiosyncrasy. It is this urge of ours which contributes to the rising popularity of indie clothing brands, alternative artists, exclusive concerts and festivals, and hole-in-the-wall specialty stores. While there are people who are the true fans, continuing to seek the hidden gems and actively support the initiatives of their cohorts, we all know people, including ourselves perhaps, who lost interests in particular musicians, painters, retail brands, restaurants, or whatever it is that they have been chasing only because "this thing" which they were so infatuated with had established their brand, grown their fan base, and become what some may call “mainstream”.
It comes back to that perception, the perceived image to others.
With the desire to take on the persona of a cosmopolitan traveler, an edgy discoverer or a hip connoisseur, many of us choose to participate in activities and adopt certain interests based on the associated stereotypes. For instance, one that identifies him or herself as outdoor enthusiast are often automatically marked with this earthly, worldly, carefree personality. And if you happen to be one of those who do not enjoy such nature-loving activities, you somehow are branded with the exact opposite traits, most carry a negative undertone.
Given the endless list of hobbies and interests available to us today, do the interests we claim that we enjoy reflect our true selves? Especially when majority of modern human interaction lies within on our tiny little screens, where we swipe left or right solely based on the few lines of text in that description box. Rarely do people waste any of their limited 500 characters noting that they are actually true TV fans, avid movie go-ers, regular mall visitors, or just day-dreamers. After all, these 500 characters seem key, determining our next encounters.
Given how extensively we digitized human communication and the artificial weight of our digital profile nowadays, the hobbies we choose to showcase, whether on dating profiles or social media, are no longer those which we genuinely find pleasure an enjoyment from. Perhaps it is time to hold back a little on telling the stories we want to tell, but relaying the true stories of ourselves.
Rather than aimlessly going from one trend to another, we might consider choosing our interests more intentionally, even if some are the social media profile cliches if we are aware of the whys.
p.s. Hiking, soy milk, and avocado toasts (rated the most annoying food on Instagram) are all definitely staying on my list.